When it comes to oral health, most people only think of their teeth and gums. However, your tongue can offer insight into your oral health and shouldn’t be forgotten. If you’re seeing any of the following signs, your dental care regimen may need an overhaul, and you should schedule a consultation with a dentist right away.

Our Gainesville dentists provide an array of dentistry services to help keep your mouth healthy and your smile radiant. Contact Comprehensive Dental Care today to schedule an appointment.

White Coating, Spots, Or Patches

White coating, spots, or patches in your mouth can mean a few different things. In the elderly, children, or those with compromised immune systems, white patches with the consistency of cottage cheese is often a sign of oral thrush. This is not a serious condition and can be treated with prescription antifungal medicine. White lines, similar to lace, may be oral lichen planus, a chronic condition that usually clears up on its own. There could be several reasons and treatments for this outbreak, so it’s best to work with your doctor to get to the issue’s root. White patches can also be leukoplakia, a condition where the tongue’s cells grow excessively. This is most commonly seen in smokers and may be an early indication of cancer, so it’s important to seek medical advice ASAP.

Abnormally Red

A redder than normal tongue may be caused by folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiencies, which a blood test can determine. Red patches on the tongue with white borders may be a condition known as geographic tongue, which is usually harmless. A red, strawberry-like tongue with bumps could indicate more serious conditions, including scarlet fever and Kawasaki disease. These conditions require immediate medical attention and should not be taken lightly.

Black Or Hairy

Many people aren’t aware of this, but the papillae on your tongue are similar to your hair as they continuously grow. In a mouth with poor oral health, these papillae may become longer. As they grow, bacteria become easier to take up residence, causing the black appearance. Thankfully, this condition is usually not serious and can be reversed with improved dental hygiene. People with diabetes, who are taking antibiotics or receiving chemotherapy may also develop this condition and should alert their doctors.

Bumpy Or Sore

There can be many reasons why your tongue is bumpy or sore, including accidentally biting it, drinking or eating something too hot, or smoking. If you grind your teeth at night, this can also cause sore spots. Wearing a mouthguard while you sleep can help protect both your teeth and your tongue. A canker sore may also be an issue. While the cause of canker sores is unknown, it is believed that stress can increase the risk of developing them. Most canker sores clear up on their own over time. If you have a lump or sore that persists longer than two weeks, you should consult your doctor as this may be a sign of oral cancer. Most oral cancers don’t hurt at early stages, so don’t take a lack of pain as an indication that everything is okay. The sooner you catch any type of cancer, the better.